Pac-12 Football: Week 9's Game-by-Game Picks and Predictions
Last week I went a perfect 6-of-6 straight up and 5-of-6 against the spread—USC covered that 41 point spread against Colorado and I didn't think they would.
This week Oregon State got some excellent news in that its quarterback Sean Mannion will be back in action after knee surgery, according to the Oregonian.
Both USC and UCLA are on the road in Arizona but will both walk away with a win?
Here are my picks and predictions for this week in the Pac-12.
Enjoy the carnage.
Oregon State at Washington
Just when you thought Oregon State couldn't get any more invincible—the Beavers continued to win behind reserve quarterback Cody Vaz—Sean Mannion is reportedly back from knee surgery and ready to go against Washington, as previously noted.
I actually thought the Beavers would beat the Huskies with Vaz as quarterback but, now that Mannion is back, the prognosis for the Huskies' porous secondary is not favorable; they will get shredded by Mannion.
The Beavers are favored by 4.5 points, but they'll win by double digits.
Washington State at Stanford
I realize that Washington State may not win another game this season—it did, after all, lose to its one hope, Colorado—but this Cougar team has kept most of its games close. And that impresses me.
Stanford runs the ball very well and it will do so against the No. 82-ranked Cougar defense. On the flip side, the Cougars don't have a running game whatsoever—they average a hair over 40 yards per game—but their passing game—averaging over 322 yards per game—will be going up against the No. 108-ranked Cardinal pass defense.
Confused? Don't be. The Cougars will throw some points on the board if they can improve their red zone conversions. Right now, they're at a lowly 68.18 percent on red zone scoring but only 45.45 percent of their points are via touchdown.
Stanford wins this but doesn't cover that 21-point spread.
Colorado at Oregon
The above picture perfectly captures head coach Jon Embree and his Buffaloes' season. Embree is a nice guy and we really wish him well, but this season has been an utter disaster and it's about to get worse.
Last week the Buffs lost to USC 50-6 and while Colorado did put together a couple of promising drives, it could only muster two field goals.
The Oregon Ducks have the fourth-best rushing attack in the FBS, and their offense will be going up against the No. 78-ranked Buffalo rush defense. This will get ugly.
Oregon is favored by 45.5 points and will sadly cover that point spread, perhaps by half time.
Cal at Utah
The California Golden Bears are really dinged up on defense.
Three linebackers are questionable/doubtful for the Bears' game at Utah: Chris McCain, Jalen Jefferson and Brennan Scarlett. However, Cal head coach Jeff Tedford does think Scarlett can play at Utah, according to a report by SFGate.com.
Utah, on the other hand, looks fairly healthy. The Utes have dropped four straight but three of those games were on the road. The Utes' front four are very aggressive with the pass rush, and I think Star Lotulelei's name will be heard often in this game.
Defense is going to win this game, and since Cal appears to have some serious depth issues at linebacker, the Utes and their home field advantage get the nod here in a close one.
Utah is favored by one point.
UCLA at Arizona State
This battle in Tempe, Arizona will be the Pac-12 Game of the Week. Arizona State is coming off of a stinging loss to Oregon while UCLA is coming off a bye.
Head coach Todd Graham has done a fantastic job of improving the Sun Devils' discipline. Last year the Sun Devils were the most penalized team in the country (No. 120) but have jumped to No. 5 this year. The UCLA Bruins have regressed in discipline; last year the Bruins were ranked No. 86 in penalties and this year they are currently No. 122.
Both teams are almost even on passing game yardage and rushing yardage but the Sun Devils have the No. 1 passing defense in the country and that will be the difference in this game—the Bruins' pass defense is ranked No. 87.
Arizona State is favored by 6.5 points and they should not only win, but cover that spread.
USC at Arizona
After coming off of a 50-6 rout over Colorado, USC will face a much tougher test in Tucson, Arizona.
Keep in mind, the Arizona Wildcats beat the stuffing out of the Washington Huskies 52-17 last week while USC could only muster up a 24-14 victory over Washington. Arizona also scored 48 points on the road at Stanford in its 54-48 overtime loss to the Cardinal while USC, at home, lost 21-14 to Stanford.
Before we start jumping off the ledge and picking Arizona to win this game, remember one thing: USC is not the same team it was earlier in the season.
Arizona is a great test for USC and I think USC's defense will struggle to contain the Wildcats' No. 5-ranked passing offense, but I also think there will be some key turnovers in the game that go the Trojans' way.
USC wins in a shootout by a touchdown, and covers (barely) that 6.5 spread.